About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Focus on the Actors?

I was a bit irked yesterday by an email I received from my theatre company. It was an audition announcement for our next show, and came with a little note from the director explaining the concept, which said "...the play specifically calls for as little costume and set dressing as possible. What does this mean? This means this is a show for ACTORS!"

This drove me crazy. We're talking about a contemporary, intimate relationship drama. What are they going to be wearing, ballgowns? People seem to have this attitude that if everyone isn't in corsets and frock coats, they're not wearing "costumes", or that if the show is contemporary, costumes aren't important.


You want to communicate to your audience right away who these people are or how they live. This play is about a married couple who are both writers, and set in their home. Are they well off, or do they struggle to make ends meet? Are they preppy academics, or cutting-edge rebels? Do they live in Cape Cod, Arizona, or Brooklyn? These are all opportunities to flesh out the characters, and these details can be communicated to the audience through the costumes and set dressing.


It doesn't help the audience for the actors to wander on stage wearing whatever clothes they happened to have on that morning. That tells them nothing about the characters. It doesn't help the actors, either. Often, the key to realizing a character is looking in the mirror and seeing that character looking back at you.

That's not to say that you can't be completely transported by a well-acted show with minimal tech elements, but you need to create an environment in which the audience's imagination can fill in the blanks. Where you put the negative space in a play is a choice, too.

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